Stout defense, transition offense carries Maryland women’s basketball to another big win

Maryland Women’s Basketball has been on an offensive tear of late. Since a six-point loss to Iowa on January 9, the Terps have posted back-to-back blowout wins. The second of those two came Thursday night, as the Terps put together a dominant performance, sealing consecutive wins for the first time in 2020. This time, Maryland’s victim was Nebraska, as they deposited the Cornhuskers 87-69 in College Park.

The Xfinity Center has been a remedy for Maryland’s thus far, where the Terps have won eight of nine games. Maryland continued that strong run of form Thursday, winning by double digits for the fourth consecutive home game.

“It was really exciting to see us put together two solid games,” said Maryland Coach Brenda Frese. “Our defense obviously led to our offense.”

Maryland began its run with as guard Diamond Miller. After a slow start, the Terps upped their defensive intensity. Miller reaped the benefits, taking the ball coast-to-coast for an easy layup after forcing a turnover. The pivotal moment tied the game at 12. The Terps wouldn’t trail again.

“[Miller] is confident and really aggressive,” said Coach Frese.

After the run, the Terps forced five turnovers and outscored the Cornhuskers to 14 to three over the to close out the quarter. It was a dominant three minutes that foreshadowed the rest of the game.

Guard Kaila Charles, showed her All-American quality on both ends of the court all evening. With eight minutes remaining in the second quarter, she swatted a shot before attacking the hoop at the other end for a transition layup. She was one of four Terps to hit double digits, providing 23 on the night.

However, he Cornhuskers’ three-point kept them in the game. Despite missing standout shooter Taylor Kissinger, Nebraska shot above 50% from behind the arc.

“We knew that the rest of the team would have to step up in that area,” said Nebraskda head Coach Amy Williams.

Still, the Terps’ kept getting to the basket with ease, and led 43-34 at the half.

The Terps have been inconsistent with three-point shooting all season — one the major reasons for their struggles on the road. But shooting only 25% against Nebraska did not hinder Maryland tonight. Freshman guard Diamond Miller gave the Terps a spark off the bench, scoring 13 points while shooting 2-of-4 from three-point distance.

Despite the Terps’ convincing lead, Nebraska stuck around. They started to generate stops, and held Maryland to 35% shooting in the third quarter. Meanwhile, they went on mini runs of their own, cutting the game to 61-55 at the end of the third.

Their run relied heavily on the contributions of Leigha Brown, who tallied 19 points while also hitting effectively from the free throw line. However, Nebraska could never get standout center Kate Cain going. Cain, who averages a double-double, was held scoreless.

“I think Maryland’s personnel is such that they can switch screens,” said Coach Williams. “the stayed active and made things difficult to pass inside.”

Defense was crucial once again in the fourth quarter, as the Terps held Nebraska to just 14 points while converting on 61% of their shots. A clean jump shot from forward Shakira Austin put the lead back into double digits with eight minutes remaining. Maryland held on from there.

Next Monday, Maryland will need the Xfinity Center to be a safe haven once again, when Indiana visits.